The excitement of the Christmas season is palpable in young children. Unfortunately, the stress of parents can also be palpable. This holiday season I invite you to sit back for a moment and consider the realities of the season and to make a leap of faith that this year it will be truly memorable and magical, the kind of Christmas that every child deserves.
Let’s start with a simple Christmas task. Make a list and check it twice. What and who is on your holiday gift list this year? Is your six year old asking for an I-pad? Have the number of people on the list grown exponentially through the years? Will buying everything on your list for everyone on your list leave you in debt until next Christmas or beyond?
Parents so often express disbelief when their children rip through the packaging on Christmas morning only to complain a few minutes later that they are bored or worse, they play with the boxes, not the toys that came in them! Yet, year after year, we do the same thing expecting different results. Isn’t that the definition of insanity according to Einstein? So this year instead of expecting different, let’s do different. This year make the holidays really meaningful by scaling back, relaxing and enjoying the time we spend with our loved ones.
Change one thing this year. Here are a few suggestions to get you started.
1. Instead of going shopping one night, stay in and bake cookies with your kids.
2. Instead of buying another plastic, noisy toy, make a toy for your child.
3. Think outside of Target or mall stores and give your kids something really great!
(I got my kids plastic pipes from the hardware store. They played with them ALL summer long, just add water)
4. Forgo gifts and have everyone over for Christmas Dinner or cook for someone who can’t.
5. Consider a donation in someone’s name.
6. Buy a memory, instead of a toy. (Tickets to the Nutcracker Ballet, a weekend camping, a day off school to spend at the aquarium, museum or painting with your child or significant other.)
7. Open only one gift on Christmas day. Stretch the gift giving until the 6th of January (Three Kings Day.) Each day the gift gets smaller, such as favorite card game, a candy bar, coins from different countries.
See how it feels to do one little thing differently, but consciously. Give yourself and your kids credit. You’ll be surprised that their excitement won’t diminish because the gifts are small or there are less of them or they are handmade. Children delight in the change of routine, the staying up late and drinking hot cocoa. They delight in the stories, in the family. They delight in knowing that this handmade gift is one of a kind, no one else will have one. Christmas is not about shopping or checking off a to do list, it’s about coming together in the spirit of rebirth and celebration. Children intrinsically get it. We adults should let them enjoy it, without spoiling it for them with our worries or expectations.
Merry Christmas to you and yours and may the peace of a newborn baby forever live in your heart.